What conditions do local people need to ensure that the plastic waste generated in the villages can be properly collected and recycled, creating added value for the local population in the process?

Target group

The local population in the remote mountain regions of Nepal is suffering from the ever-increasing amounts of plastic waste. Due to the lack of a waste collection infrastructure, the waste poses a considerable risk to the environment and the health of the local population. Often the waste is burnt, which leads to air pollution and the release of toxic gases and chemicals. In addition, watercourses are contaminated and soils are polluted by improper dumping, often for decades. Approximately 9,000 people live in the Manaslu region. Approximately 7,000 trekking tourists make this trek every year. Our local partner, a trekking guide and NGO founder, approached us with the request to support him and his team, as well as the local population, in solving this increasingly massive problem.

Framework conditions

Nepal, like other developing countries, has a waste infrastructure that can be improved. The classic waste management approaches in Nepal have always been landfilling and incineration. Large recycling plants are not an option, especially in small, remote places, and removal is cumbersome and expensive. To put this into perspective, the highest village is about a week’s walk from the nearest road. The involvement of the political leaders of the Manaslu Conservation Area Project of the National Trust for Nature Conservation has so far failed due to the poor accessibility and low motivation of those responsible. However, it is essential for such a project to be able to rely on the support of the responsible authorities.

Apart from the waste caused by trekking tourists (mostly plastic bottles), the local population also uses more and more products that are packed in plastic. Chinese noodle snacks, for example, are very popular, but the population is largely unaware of the connection between the amount of waste and health problems. An awareness-raising process for the local population should be initiated in parallel to the specific project.

In a bachelor thesis commissioned by Weltweitwandern for the Joanneum University of Applied Sciences, the amount of plastic waste on the Manaslu trek was researched: „In total, tourists and locals generate an estimated 35.7 tonnes of plastic waste, of which approximately 93% would be attributable to the local population“. (Dalla-Via 2022)

About Weltweitwandern

Weltweitwandern was founded in 1999 by Christian Hlade to fund a school in a remote village in the Himalayas. Since then, a strong social claim has been in our company DNA. So the idea that everyone should get something out of travelling has played a major role from the very beginning. „Leaving impressions instead of imprints“ is one of our slogans, because we have been committed to responsible tourism from the very beginning, with the aim of creating better places for the locals and for our guests through our walking tours. Most recently, we were awarded the „Travelife“ certificate in 2023, one of the most prestigious international awards for sustainability in tourism. With our partner sustainability programme, we motivate and support our local partner companies to make their activities in our destinations even more sustainable.

Follow-Up Session: 28 November 2023, 9 – 10 a.m.

Note: The team will work in English during the workshop to enable the participation of local experts.

More information about the co-creation workshop 2023